House of memory

High-lighting heritage tourism in North-West

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Tourists on the heritage trail will be delighted to know that Kedar Heritage Lodge in North-West Province is a repository of priceless memorabilia from some of South Africa's most turbulent and fascinating historical periods.

Kedar has a plethora of authentic, South African War, memorabilia readily displayed in and around the property. A lot of these pieces have fascinating stories from the Second Anglo-Boer War. Some tell the story of the artefact until it ended up at Kedar. All the memorabilia is clearly marked and the stories are also provided. The collection is continually being updated.

This collection of memorabilia is one of the largest private South African War collections in the world and boasts everything from, medals, guns, canons, swords, badges, uniforms and many other artefacts. There is also a network of statues of prominent South African war personalities throughout the property. For those that have a passion for history, it will take days to get through all Kedar has to offer.

"We are passionate about history and heritage and also about dispelling the myth of the South African war being a 'white man’s war'. To call it such is incorrect on two fronts, firstly, it involved other races, particularly black people, in many different capacities. Secondly, women and children were also affected through, inter alia, concentration camps," says Themba Mahleka, Business Development Manager at Recreation Africa.

"We have unveiled memorials to prominent figures from the South African war including Paul Kruger, Kgosi Mokgatle, Jan Smuts, Mahatma Gandhi and Sol Plaatje," continues Mahleka. "As part of our drive to create awareness, we have also incorporated a non profit company which seeks to promote history and heritage in South Africa, namely, the Mogale Arts and Heritage Development Company."

Mahleka continues: "We are currently working on upgrading the Paul Kruger Country House Museum by making the Pieter Kruger (“Oom Paul’s son) House a museum that tells the story of women, children and black people in the South African war and in the concentration camps. We also intend on making the school barn an area where movies can be played to disseminate information about the war (for educational and other purposes)."

Bringing the past to life

It is often forgotten that, before becoming President of the old Suid-Afrikaanse Republiek, Paul Kruger was a successful farmer who owned and worked several farms in the Rustenburg district. On one of these, Boekenhoutfontein - stands the Paul Kruger Country Museum which encompasses a collection of unique historic buildings, offering a fascinating insight into Kruger's life and a time when South Africa was locked in a struggle for sovereignty with the British Empire. Declared a national monument in 1936, and preserved by the Simon van der Stel Foundation since 1971, it is now administered by Kedar Heritage Lodge, Conference Centre & Spa and has been restored to its former glory.

The buildings were damaged by British forces during the South African War, and after President Kruger's death in exile in 1904, the property passed to his descendants, saying, “Boekenhoutfontein belongs to you: preserve it as your own.” - Simon v.d. Stel Foundation.The main house, where Kruger lived with his 16 children and his second wife, Gezina, is a solid and stately building which portrays his invincible belief in the future of his country

Built in a neat row, the buildings bear witness to his sense of order and symmetry. Simple building methods and materials are evident, such as rough beechwood lintels, cow dung, peach pip and blood floors and roof beams fastened by dowels and leather thongs. Period furniture and authentic wallpaper have been recreated by craftsmen in Europe; Kruger's rifle is on show (possibly the one with which he killed a lion at the tender age of 14) together with one of his many bibles and the bellows organ, played by his wife Gezina, plus many gifts given to him by visiting state dignitaries. The Bronkhorst House, dating back to the early 1840s, was occupied by Kruger while he was building his first house at Boekenhoutfontein. It is reportedly the oldest white-owned dwelling in the then Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek. This property neighbours the Bafokeng nation whom Kruger befriended and persuaded to register their land rights, resulting in today's great Bafokeng wealth generated through its royalties from the platinum mines.

In close proximity can be found family graves, the koppie where Kruger often sought religious guidance and the saddle in the hills where he hid his horses from the British forces. The dams built by Kruger have also been restored and today serve as watering holes for the herds of game which can be viewed roaming the surrounding untouched bushveld.

British bulldog

In September 2018, Kedar will be adding a new memorial of yet another prominent figure in history who was in involved in the South African war. Said memorial and statue will be of Sir Winston Churchill.

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965) was a British politician, army officer, and writer, who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. As Prime Minister, Churchill oversaw British victory in the Second World War.

Churchill was born into an aristocratic family, the grandson of the 7th Duke of Marlborough and son of an English politician and an American socialite. Joining the British Army, he saw action in British India, the Anglo–Sudan War and the Second Boer War, gaining fame as a war correspondent and writing books about his campaigns.

For more information (including the Spa in the Country at Kedar, the restaurants, activities/nearby attractions and other information), please visit www.kedar.co.za

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